A 13-year-old Hispanic boy has been shot dead by Sherriff’s deputies in Northern California who, apparently, mistook his toy rifle for a real gun according to a Skynews report.
According to the report, two deputies on patrol saw the deceased walking with what they thought was a weapon on Tuesday in Santa Rosa.
The object looked like an AK-47 with a black magazine and brown butt, according to a photograph released by the sheriff’s office.
They repeatedly ordered him to drop what he was holding as they were calling for backup.
The boy’s father, Rodrigo Lopez, identified him as his son, Andy Lopez, to a newspaper and said the teenager had been carrying a toy gun that belonged to a friend.
It was not clear whether the boy pointed the replica assault rifle at the deputies or made any type of threatening gesture.
Lt O’Leary said the deputies fired several rounds from their handguns immediately after issuing the orders to drop the rifle.
A neighbour in the area, Brian Zastrow, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper that he heard seven shots.
“First, I heard a single siren and within seconds I heard seven shots go off, sounded like a nail gun, is what I thought it was,” he said.
Lt O’Leary said the boy fell to the ground on top of the rifle and deputies ordered him to move away before approaching him and putting him in handcuffs.
They then began administering first aid and called for paramedics, who pronounced the boy dead at the scene.
Deputies also found a plastic handgun in the boy’s waistband, Lt O’Leary said.
The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard after a shooting.
Community members left candles, teddy bears and flowers at the edge of the field where the teen was shot and questioned deputies’ decision to open fire.
“I’m sure you can tell he’s a 13-year-old boy,” Abrey Martin told KGO-TV. “He’s not some maniac.”
The Press Democrat quoted the boy’s mother, Sujey Annel Cruz Cazarez, as saying, “Why did they kill him? Why?”
Rodrigo Lopez told the newspaper he last saw his son on Tuesday morning.
“I told him what I tell him every day,” he said in Spanish. “Behave yourself.”
Andy Lopez was an eighth-grader at Lawrence Cook Middle School.
“Andy was a very loved student, a very popular, very handsome young man, very smart and capable,”‘ Linsey Gannon said, describing the boy.
“Our community has been rocked by his loss.” She added.